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malevolent, only, could hint, with a sneer, that
Tom's mother must be a washerwoman and his
father a cab proprietor, so very white and profuse
was his linen, and so very frequently was
he to be seen scurrying from the West-end to
the City in a Hansom. Being a very little man,
he naturally carried, at all places of public
entertainment, a very big opera-glass; and it was
highly edifying to watch him at the opera or
the theatre, on the first night of a new dancer
or a new play, apparently engaged in sighting a
brace of Armstrong guns linked together. You
could scarcely sweep the vista of the hill at
Epsom or the grand stand at Ascot, without
your eye lighting on Tom and the big opera-
glass, sitting in the high places, or planted,
Colossus of Rhodes-like, on the top of a four-in-
hand. He went behind the scenes of all the
theatres; and many a manager owed his
temporary rescue from ruin to Tom Tuttleshell’s
friendly offices in the way of letting stalls and
private boxes. He was free of a great many
newspaper offices, and of a great many
newspapers too, to judge from the neatly-folded
and banded copies which were handed to
him by bowing publishers when he took his
weekly trot down the Strand every Saturday
afternoon. He went frequently to Paris, and
consorted with the best people there, both
English and French. He was a confidential
creature. When Sir John Brute, who adored
his wife, and was in the habit of beating her
black and blue, had been unusually obstreperous,
her ladyship always called in Tom Tuttleshell,
and he seldom failed to induce penitence
in the heart of the offending husband. He had
saved Mrs. Lightfoot from committing suicide,
after the discovery by her jealous spouse of
Captain Tenstun's miniature in her writing-case;
and when Mrs. Majolica Potts threw the tea-
things at her husband's head, and he retorted
by casting china images at her, and the children,
terrified by the quarrels of their parents, cast
themselves in wild confusion down the nursery
stairs, Tom was always called in to restore peace
to that distracted household. Thus, welcome
everywhere, and doing harm to no man, was
Tom Tuttleshell. He was not literary; but
had once written a song, in aid of the funds of a
fancy fair, arid dedicated by permission to Mrs.
Hiram Hyem Higgs (great banking family). He
was not artistic; yet was supposed to have a keen
eye for the old masters, had once been examined
as a witness before a Fine Art committee, and
was absolutely alluded to in a Fine Art debate,
when the report was brought up in the
Commons, as “a gentleman of well-known taste.”
He was no great politician; but he was sure,
at election-time, to be on the Conservative
candidate's committee. He was neither financial
nor commercial, though he was always very
anxious about the price of consols, shook his
head when Venezuelan bonds were mentioned,
and had been seen in Upper Thames-street
attentively regarding a sample of Patna rice in
the outstretched palm of an eminent wholesale
grocer. “I ask you, Tom, as a fellow who
knows what's what, if that's rice!” the grocer
was heard to say. He was undeniably respectable;
but nobody knew precisely where he
lived. He was supposed to have a bedroom
at an hotel in Jermyn-street, and chambers in
Reynard's Inn, and an office in Gideon-court,
Sampson-lane, Cornhill. Yet, granting this
slight amount of mystery, not a breath of
suspicion rested on the fair fame of Tom
Tuttleshell, for he had been seen lunching on turtle
at Birch's with a governor of the Bank of
England, and was currently reported to have
an audience with the prime minister every
morning, when the pilot who guided the ship of
state was engaged in the pleasant occupation of
shaving. These things become known, and do
a man good.

The Pilgrims’ dinner had reached that agreeable
stage when men begin to trifle with the
cates before them; to be critical about the wine;
biscuits they nibble; to inspect contemplatively
the chequers in their Madras napkins; to be
deeply interested in the hinges of their
nutcrackers, to peer curiously into the shells of
their filberts, and when they find a withered one
to utter a fat sigh, half in the complacency of
processive digestion, and half as though they
were reflecting: “Such is life:”— then to whisk
imaginary crumbs from off their knees; then to
pull their wristbands and adjust their collars;
then to find more flavour in the Chambertin
“A very delicate, yet sound wine, Tuttleshell:”
“I wish I had a quarter cask of it, my lord”—
than ever the wine-merchant put into it; then
to admit that, after all, the old Saxon families
surpass the so-called Norman race in purity of
blood and antiquity of lineage. “I would
rather be Cedric the Saxon than Philippe de
Malvoisin,” says Lord Carleton, finding two
beeswings in his port instead of none: to
which Tom Tuttleshell, whose grandfather was
the Lord knows whom, cheerfully assents; and,
finally to yawn, and to think that a mild cigar and
a glass of Seltzer with something in it, would
be about the summum bonum of human felicity.
Don’t let me hear you say that there are few
hours of unmixed happiness in life, or repeat
that trash, that man never is but always to be
blest. Man is blest when he is asked to dine
at the Pilgrims’. The chef would impale himself
on his own spit if he heard that any one had.
been compelled to take carbonate of soda after
one of his dinners; the cellar is so good that
there is not a headache in the whole of it; and
black care never sits behind the horseman who
puts his legs in the mahogany stirrups of that
friendly club. No British wife is ever angry
with her husband for being bidden to dine at
the Pilgrims’; precisely as no British husband
(save a monster) would deny his wife a cheque
if she were about to be presented at court, and
lacked jewellery or lace.

“But the question is,” said Lord Carleton, as
they rose from table in beaming mood; “the
question is, where shall we go?”

“Strangers can’t play cards," remarked Sir
William Long.